Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Every student deserves same opportunity
Education is not a short period of a person's life. It is an ongoing process that should be nurtured from an early point in life.
That is why we are glad to see VISD encouraging residents to enroll their children in prekindergarten this year and offering a program to help students acclimate to their new school environment.
At VISD's weeklong Minnow Camp, an orientation program for pre-K students and their parents, students had the opportunity to visit their future schools, meet their teachers and catch a glimpse of how the pre-K program works. This was the first year VISD held Minnow Camp, and we were glad to see the students and their families taking advantage of this resource. Getting an early start on education is vital when teaching students how to appreciate education and helping them develop skills essential for future success. We applaud VISD for offering pre-K and taking the extra effort to smooth the transition for incoming students.
However, the limited number of students accepted into VISD's pre-K program is disappointing. The district currently offers the program to students who qualify for free or reduced lunch, come from an active military household, are currently in foster care or are learning English as a second language. As board of trustees Vice President Bernard Klimist and other trustees said during the Aug. 15 meeting, it is disappointing to see the number of students eligible for full-day pre-K to be so limited and that the program is not open to every student.
We understand the state pays for half-day pre-K and VISD foots the bill for the rest of the full-day services, but there must be a way for more students to receive the same full-day services as others without putting an unnecessary burden on the district. We encourage VISD to look into different options to expand its full-day program to include more students. Perhaps the district could allow parents who are able to pay a fee to send their children to pre-K or include a sliding scale that will factor in a family's economic position to calculate how much they should pay. Pre-K is an important resource for Victoria students, and we encourage the district to find a way to make full-day services available to every student, not just a select few.
As the school year begins, we are glad to see students of all ages are returning for another year of learning and exploration. We applaud Superintendent Robert Jaklich and the staff of VISD for their efforts to improve the district every year. We are especially grateful to see Jaklich bring his expertise in early childhood education, which was the subject of his dissertation, and put it to practical use. Under his leadership and thanks to the hard work of all the faculty and staff at VISD, we are looking forward to a great school year.
This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.